Fun with Geotagging

I’ve been more than a little distracted recently designing and implementing a new website for Leighton Buzzard and Linslade’s U3A group. Though I may be experienced at building websites, having my own, I was not experienced at setting them up on a web hosting service since mine is very kindly hosted by my good friend and former colleague, Steve. I had a bit of a learning curve but on Friday we managed to purchase a URL together with a web hosting contract and on Saturday Leighton – Linslade’s U3A went live on the Web. [Ed: Fortunately I’ve already lost most of my hair so there was little left to tear out. 🙂 ]

Today was time to relax a little but what’s a boy to do on a dull, grey Sunday? [Ed: Answers on a postcard to …] A couple of weeks ago, prior to getting embroiled, I discovered  the ability to geotag digital photographs. This process adds to photographs the GPS coordinates representing where the picture was taken. Sounded like clever stuff. I’d already got a part of the puzzle in a piece of freeware called easyGPS which, given the correct cable to connect a GPS to a PC, will download a track from a handheld GPS device and save it as a GPS Exchange File (.gpx). Actually, Google Earth will also do this but I didn’t know that then. Google, bless them, have a nifty piece of freeware called GPicSync which will match pictures to track coordinates and marry them together. You can save the result as a .KML file for Google Earth which will then display the track with thumbnails of the relevant photographs taken en route.

I grabbed me a copy of GPicSync and, though It seemed like magic, I gave it a try. Go for a wander with your GPS switched on and snap away with your digital camera. Get home, download the track and the photos and let GPicSync perform its magic. I did. It kinda worked but the pictures were not in the correct locations on the track. A little reading showed that this process works on time. The digital camera records the time when each photo was taken. The GPS plots a course with times associated with each GPS location. The times on the camera and the GPS have to be synchronized to be correctly matched. My GPS and camera were nearly an hour apart (summer time issue combined with inaccuracy). I fixed them.

Today I tried it again with much better results. It wasn’t a day for great photos being grey and overcast but, just to demonstrate the technique, here is a .kmz (like a zipped .kml) file. Clicking on it should offer the chance to save it or, much better, open it in Google Earth assuming that you have that installed (if not, install it ‘cos it’s fun):

Grey Sunday Walk.

Sometimes technology works and does something vaguely useful. Now, if it would just know which way the camera was pointing when the shutter was released …

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